Posts Tagged: all about me

Apr 12

He Might Be A Narcissist If …

… before you were married, he said flattering things about the way you dressed and the clever way you put yourself together.  After marriage, he tells you how he never liked boots with skirts, and that you shouldn’t wear your hair short because it makes your face look full.

… he refuses to suggest that you spend a day doing something you’ve been talking about – something he knows you’ve been dying to do – until you beg him to go with you.

… he spends more time getting ready in the morning than you.  His lotions and potions take up more space in the bathroom than your creams, and he often smells more fragrant than you.

… before marriage he was convinced you did everything perfectly.   Now that you’ve been married for eight months you’ve mysteriously forgotten how to cook an egg, sweep a floor, make a proper bed or keep the car tidy.

… he says you spend too much time reading and not enough time watching the stuff he likes on T.V. Continue reading →

Mar 12

Narcissists in the Desert

We’re home.

The vacation zen is making it hard to focus.

I’m short on words but long on photos.

Looking through the 300-plus photos, I started laughing at how much cactus is like a narcissist. Continue reading →

Jan 12

They Look Through You

Whether it comes from years of looking inward, or years of not seeing clearly, I don’t know.  Their eyes take on a cloudiness that makes it look like they have a difficult time focusing on the rest of the world.

You will feel yourself fighting the urge to hold a magnifying glass between yourself and the Narcissist, but it won’t help.  If you aren’t careful, they’ll use the magnifying glass against you.  They’ll find your flaws and use them to illustrate the fact that they are superior to you.

They’ll point out that they cook eggs better than you, or sweep the floor better or dress better or laugh easier.


The Making of a Narcissist Continue reading →

Oct 11

Self Care In Stolen Moments

grilled-ham-cheese-and-tomatoIn an unexpected turn of events, both kids ended up at grandma’s.

She could do laundry, rake leaves, return phone calls or unload the dishwasher.

She could clean the cat box, change the water in the fish bowls, pick up the remnants of thread from last night’s craft fest, or run errands.

Without giving it any more thought, she jumped in the car and headed for the wine shop.  She re-filled a bottle with basil-infused olive oil and selected an every-day bottle of red wine.

When she got home, she kicked off her shoes and ignored the mess.

She cued Nora Jones on Pandora and stood at the kitchen sink looking out the window at the crimson leaves waiting for a strong gust of wind.

She spied a ripe tomato on the windowsill and went to work.

She put a cast iron pan on medium heat; thinly sliced the tomato; thickly sliced the Monterey Jack, grabbed two slices of bread and butter.  She gathered deli ham, balsamic vinegar, Italian Seasoning and a jelly jar.

She layered ham on one slice of bread, added cheese and tomato, and covered with the other slice of bread.  She spread one outer side of the sandwich with butter and placed it in the warmed pan.  She buttered the remaining side.

She kept the heat at medium so the cheese would slowly melt, sealing the tomatoes to the ham while the bread slightly toasted.

She poured an inch of cabernet in the jelly jar.

She turned up the volume on Pandora.

She glanced again through the kitchen window, took a deep breath and didn’t let herself think about laundry, raking, dishes or bills.

She flipped the sandwich and took a sip of wine.

She cleared a place on the kitchen table, moving things aside, not putting them away.

Once the sandwich was toasted and the cheese was melty, she moved it to a plate and separated the sandwich to reveal the warmed tomato slices.  She drizzled balsamic and the basil-infused olive oil over the tomatoes, soaking the toasted bread.  She dusted the tomatoes with Italian Seasoning.

After another sip of wine, she took her first bite.


It’s not often that she has a moment to herself.  She seldom takes the time to fix herself something yummy to eat.

As she savored the sweetness of the tomatoes, the richness of the cheese and the earthiness of the balsamic, she tried to direct her thoughts.

In her mind, she tied a wide, crimson-colored satin bow around the things she ought to do next.

She pushed them all aside.

Instead, she imagined opening a gift.

The gift was a present to herself.  As she unwrapped the package, images began flying out of the box.  The images represented all the things she was grateful for:  her happy, healthy smiling kids; their cozy little home; good friends and family and her own health.

She took another bite as she visualized more images flying out of the package.

There were the projects she’d completed; the trips they’d taken; the book she’d finished; and the new goals lined out.

In this rare quiet moment, she had the space and time to take stock of, and enjoy her accomplishments.  Instead of fretting about what needed to be done, she thought of the tasks and projects she’d managed to complete.

She allowed herself to be proud of those completed projects.

She had set her own goals and standards, and proved that she could meet them.

She could feel the momentum that comes from making changes and completing projects.

There was more to be done.

There would be more to be thankful for.

And then she heard their footsteps on the front porch.

The door burst open, letting in two kids and a flurry of leaves.

“What’s that smell? Mmmm….  Will you make me one?”


Grilled Ham, Cheese and Tomato

  • Italian Bread
  • Deli Honey Ham – thinly sliced
  • Monterey Jack Cheese – thick slices
  • Tomato – from the garden, if you are lucky
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Basil-infused Olive Oil – Extra Virgin Olive Oil will do nicely
  • Italian Seasoning – or Oregano
  • Butter

Layer ham, cheese and tomatoes between slices of bread.  Butter the top and place buttered side down in a cast iron skillet that has warmed on medium heat.  Toast slowly to melt the cheese and warm the tomatoes.  Butter top before flipping.

Once the sandwich is toasted, remove from heat and separate.  Lightly drizzle the olive oil and balsamic over the tomatoes, letting some soak into the bread.  Sprinkle with seasoning.

Take bites of sandwich and sips of wine while picturing all the things you are grateful for.

Oct 11

Why Did I Marry A Narcissist?


As I reached the top of the hill, she approached from the other side.

“Hey, you!”  Even though I knew she walked in my neighborhood, we’d never run into each other before.

She said, “Hey, yourself!  I never walk this time of the day.”

I said, “I usually try to walk in the morning, but the day got away from me.”

She said, “I didn’t walk this morning because I finished your book.”


(Later, when telling a mutual friend of that afternoon’s chance encounter he said, “I suppose you both saw significance in running into each other at the top of the hill.”  I laughed and said, “Well, of course we did!”


She is an acquaintance and a published author.

While I wholeheartedly subscribe to the idea that we ought not write to please mom, or a partner or whoever we are trying to please at the time, there is something unsettling about having an author read my first book.

I wanted to plug my ears at this point, or at least run back down the hill to avoid hearing what she had to say.

Before I could turn to run she said, “I loved the format!  The quotes and pictures round out the whole message.  How is it selling?”


Then she said, “Your message will find the right people.  You explored the healthy side of selfishness – about how many of our difficulties can be linked to our not taking care of self – putting ourselves last.  You showed how that balance is necessary.  There’s a lot written about that right now.  It’s a good time for your voice on that subject.”

We spontaneously hugged as a I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked her profusely.


As I walked her back to her house, she said, “You know why you ended up with him, don’t you?”

Because I was still riding the high of her kind words – and admittedly not listening –  I said, “Huh?  Who?”

She said, “The narcissist.  Do you know why you ended up with the narcissist?”

My usual answer to this question is, “I ended up with Mark so that my life would be graced by the presence of Will and Jenny.”

What other sane reason could there be?

This time I didn’t offer that explanation.  I said, “Why do you think I married a narcissist?”

She said, “Because you needed to learn self-care.”

Jul 11

A Day in the Life of a Narcissist

He said he’d be here at 9:oo a.m.

Then he changed his mind.

He didn’t want to do what the kids wanted to do so he said, “I’m not coming at nine.  I don’t want to go where they want to go.”

The kids called and sent texts asking why he didn’t want to go where they wanted to go.

He avoided answering calls and texts.

I went to his house to ask him why he is manipulating the kids in this way.

He refused to answer the door. Continue reading →

Jul 11

The Narcissist’s Lens

She gets off the phone and sighs and says, “Dad says he’ll go to the park with me for a little bit, but he doesn’t want to stay too long because he gets bored.”

He comes back from riding his bike around the block and says, “How come dad doesn’t ever want to do what we want to do?  If he does finally do what we like, he mopes and pouts and tells us he has to get going.”

He shows up at the house with a new baseball mitt for him, and nothing for her.

He sits on the step and pretends to listen to her talk about her imaginary pony until an adult walks up.  Once he sees the opportunity a new audience provides, he stands, turns to this new person and tells him tales of mountain bike rides and how many hours he logs at the office.  Realizing that he is no longer listening, she looks down and continues drawing her pony.

He tells me that he’d like to call his dad and tell him about how high his ollies are now, but his dad doesn’t listen and act excited.  He’s thinking that maybe his dad says that it’s cool that he loves skateboarding, but he can feel that his dad is pretending to care.

They have both told me that they don’t know why they can’t be themselves around their dad.  They don’t show him their silly sides or their tired sides, or the side-splitting funny sides because they fear he won’t approve.

It’s exhausting having to be perfect all the time.

It’s no fun pretending to be something you aren’t all the time.

“How come he doesn’t want to love who we really are?”


After the last visit, he turned to me and said, “I think they’d want to spend more time with me if they weren’t missing you while they were with me.”

May 11

Not Your Typical Birthday Post

presentsAs I sit here sipping coffee, smelling blueberry pancakes and looking at the birthday presents my kids made and wrapped, I can’t help but think I ought to be writing an inspirational post about what it’s like to be turning 49.  Gasp!

I could write about 49 lessons learned in 49 years.  That might be tricky since many of those lessons I didn’t get the first, second, or even third time, so that list could get pretty redundant.

I could write about being grateful that my mom is still here to make me what I want for my birthday dinner.

I could write about the surprise of my dad remembering my birthday, inviting me to lunch and suggesting that Jen and Will come along, too.

Or, I could mention the amazing growth I’ve experienced in the last few years, from learning all I can about narcissism and how that has helped the three of us.

I could write about how blessed the three of us are with old and new friends, wonderful extended family and the folks who read this blog and contribute to our learning and healing.

But while I’m sitting here waiting for Will to serve me a second pancake, smothered in butter and a splash of real maple syrup, I have to say that I’m wondering if there’s anything to this Rapture/End-Of-Our-Days stuff, that is supposed to happen tomorrow.

I can’t get beyond thinking….


Holy Shit!  If this Rapture stuff is true, I won’t have to spend the whole next year agonizing about turning 50!



Mar 11

“Honey, Your Dad Lacks Empathy”

“Oh, sweetie!  You should have seen the darling little eight year old girl who wanted to dance with me at the meeting.  She had long curly blond hair, and a big beautiful smile.  I know her parents.  She came up to me, jumped in my lap and asked me to dance with her.  She was a really good dancer, too.”  Mark could hardly contain himself when telling Jenny of the story of the little girl who fell in love with him.

He quickly switched gears and said, “Jenny, honey, we’re getting ready to go.  Shouldn’t you find socks that match?  Let’s go look in your dresser drawer to see if we can find two socks that match.”

“Daddy, you told me to hurry, so I just grabbed the first two socks I saw.  I’m wearing boots, Daddy.  No one will see that my socks don’t match.”

“Isn’t that funny that you wear mismatched socks.  Did you brush your hair today?”

“Yes, Daddy, I just brushed it.” Continue reading →

Mar 11

Playing the Part of the Stand-In

This morning’s Twitter stream included a tweet from @AlisaBowman:

Today’s Mantra: I am the star of my own life. I play a supporting role in the lives of others.

Her tweet was the cold shower I needed this morning.  It was the wake-up call that I’ve been ignoring, or another 2×4 to the side of my head.

After reading Bowman’s tweet, I gave serious thought to my relationship history.  I thought of the role I play in my own life, and in the lives of those closest to me.  I have mastered the role of the supporting actress in my romantic relationships.  The minute I fall in love, I willingly assume the role of CEO of Support.

If he needs me to bolster his confidence, remind him of his talents, say the right words in the middle of the night to allay his fears, clear his calendar for those important seminars, provide timely servicing to help deal with his stress, shine his shoes or gas up the car, I am the girl.

Meanwhile, I take a quick glance back at my life only to see that the lead role is left vacant.  I occasionally make an appearance as stand-in, but I haven’t been starring in my own life.

There was an actress in that role at one point.  I knew her several years ago.  I’ve seen glimpses of her recently, but she’s yet to completely inhabit the role of lead actress in her own motion picture.  She acts the part of mom real well.  She’s all-consumed by that role, but she hasn’t fleshed out the rest of her character.

When I read Bowman’s tweet I realized that I’ve been so busy supporting others, I forgot to be the lead in my own life.

I want my shoes shined, and my passions encouraged, and my fears allayed, and my tank filled.  I want to know what it’s like to support myself, as much as I’ve supported others.  I want to know what it’s like to get top billing.  I want to roll out the red carpet for myself, for a change.


If this has to be a one-woman show, then so be it.



**Bowman’s site is Project Happily Ever After, a treasure-trove of proven ideas for helping troubled marriages.

Feb 11

Narcissism and Kindness

Nobody can  be  kinder  than  the  narcissist  while  you react to life in his own terms.
Elizabeth Bowen

Feb 11

Narcissism Knows No Bounds

Jenny selected the shiny brown bowl circled by a ring of cobalt blue.  She hoped I would love it, and I did.   She was excited to give the bowl to me as a gift.  The ceramic bowl is the perfect size for almonds or pretzels.

Her older brother makes some unusual pieces, and when he has a bunch of new bowls fired, we get to pick whatever he hasn’t set aside for others.


Two days ago, Mark and Will came home from skiing.  They told us of the adventures of the day, the trees they narrowly missed, the jumps they landed perfectly, and the ones they didn’t land so well.  They made plans for the next skiing adventure and Mark headed for the door.

With his hand on the doorknob, Mark turned to me and said, “Hey Jess, you know that bowl that Jenny gave you – the brown with the blue stripe?  Can I have it?  I have a set of three and it matches my set.  I know Jenny gave it to you as a gift, but I wondered if you’d mind trading that for a different piece so I could have a matching set of four bowls.” Continue reading →

Nov 10

Mom, It’s Like This…

“You know when you’re standing in line at the grocery store and the customer in front of you is talking to the cashier?  You know how the cashier sort of smiles, keeps working, and tries to answer the customer’s question, but really they just want to get through with that customer, and get on to the next, and be done working for the day?

You know how the cashier seems like she doesn’t really care about what the customer is talking about?



That’s what it’s like when I’m talking to dad.”


Sep 10

At Least He Doesn’t Live With Us

empty-chairI play mental tricks on myself. When we wake to nine inches of new snow and a temperature of 15 degrees, I tell myself, “Hey, we have lots of firewood, the furnace is working and the skiing will be great.” When our typically bright blue sky is overcast and gray for the second day in a row, I grouse a little and remind myself that I’m getting lots of chores done. When my kids complain about having to do lessons in the morning instead of riding their bikes or skateboarding, I remind them, “You know, you guys could be sitting in a desk at public school for seven hours.”

I try to find the positive in a less than rosy scenario. It’s a coping mechanism – a self-protective measure to ward off the funk.

Sometimes the scenario requires that I be more creative than usual.

Last night when Jenny was crying at the dinner table because her dad wouldn’t let her bring her favorite fuzzy yellow blanket home to our house from his house, I struggled to find a silver lining on her cloud.  I scraped the bottom of the barrel looking for a positive comment, when Will remarked that he, “almost threw up at Dad’s house,” because his dad made him read a four-page letter attesting to his own greatness before he’d let his son open his birthday present.  When the kids told me that they had to ask their dad to feed them lunch, I reminded myself that at least they’d arrived home safely.

Even a wise, older-than-her-years eight year old can’t see the logic in not letting a little girl have a cherished blankie.  All she could think was that she must not be a very good kid if her dad wouldn’t let her have her blanket.  What twelve year old boy needs a lecture on the greatness of his father, before he can open his birthday present?  “Mom, he’s trying to show me he’s wonderful by making me read this letter, then he hands me a cool pocket knife, and that’s supposed to make everything fine?” Continue reading →

Aug 10

Apron Strings and Mixed Messages

forest floorJust received an email from a dear friend.   Her youngest has gone off to college.  She lives on the other side of the country, and yet I can feel how her life has shifted in a plate tectonics sort of way.   I’d like to be camped at her house with cocktails, dinners, movies and whatever her favorite distractions may be.  I know that the gesture would be appreciated, but that’s the last thing she would want right now.

Our parenting styles are very similar.  That is to say, our worlds revolve around our kids, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m a recovering helicopter parent.  When Will was small, I obsessed about every bite he took, the length of every nap, and his clothing preferences.  I could tell you what kind of mood he was in by the expression on his face.  I knew his smell, the rumblings he muttered when he slept, his favorite songs, and his weird sign language that took the place of speech for a scary long time.

We seemed to communicate on a cellular level.

When Jenny came along, I was presented with a new being to cherish and obsess over.  I was in tune with her on a totally different, feminine level.  I read her moods, felt her needs and anticipated her wants before she had to express them. Continue reading →